'You’re listening to 93.7 The Scratch’

Dave Weatherwax/The Herald
Jasper High School senior Robin Evans read an announcement for listeners on the student-run radio station 93.7 The Scratch on Tuesday morning. Students take turns running the 30-minute shift at 7:30 a.m. each day to play music selections and read announcements on the air. The station reaches about a mile around the school campus.

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — A classic rock song jammed in the background as Jasper High School junior Ben Fromme quickly rehearsed his lines, his finger poised to hit the button that would put him on the air.

“You are listening to 93.7 The Scratch,” he repeated to himself, headphones strapped to his head and a microphone in front of his face.

Fromme was new to radio, but Wednesday morning he was about to be broadcast over the airwaves into the cars of his peers arriving in the high school parking lot.

“I’ve just got to remember what I’m saying, otherwise I’m going to really mess up here,” Fromme said with a laugh as he prepared to stop the music and address the students. His fist announcement to hit the airwaves informed his classmates of a robotics team meeting. With a click of the computer mouse, the music began again and Fromme whirled around in his seat in the media classroom for some encouraging words from teacher Evan Elrod.

In the middle of last semester, Elrod built the transmitter that now sits in a corner of the media room and started The Scratch station, which is run entirely by his students. The high-schoolers take turns working the shifts beginning at 7:30 a.m. each day and lasting until the first bell rings at 8 a.m.

The station is meant to benefit both the media students who are looking for some real training and others at the school who can listen for information on important club meeting times or athletics news as they arrive at school. The station serves as a supplement to the regular morning announcements.

“When kids are driving in, even sitting in the parking lot as they’re procrastinating about coming into the school building, they can listen,” Elrod said. “It’s a good learning tool for them as well. We’ll get them trained up and that’s the whole purpose of being able to try it. This is low pressure. As soon as (Ben) opens the mic, he’s going to get a little nervous, but it’s not like if he falls on his face it’s the end of the world and I’m going to fire him. It’s not real world, necessarily, but it’s as close as we’re going to get in a school building.”

Senior Dallas Jones, who performed her first shift on The Scratch last week, already has a bit of real experience in radio through an internship with radio station WBDC, and she uses the classroom station as an opportunity for even more practice. She plans to pursue a career in some kind of broadcast media.

“I think it’s cool that we get to have our own radio station because then we get to choose what’s on it,” she said. “I don’t think a lot of people know about it yet, but it’s gaining popularity.”

Students offer a personal touch to the music as well as the news announcements. They brought in their own CD collections and added their favorite songs to the radio computer, which makes for an eclectic mix of genres including ’70s rock staples, pop hits and even joke tunes about beards.

“That’s part of the beauty of this. The stations that they listen to aren’t going to play necessarily what they want them to,” Elrod said. “There aren’t a lot of radio stations out there that really appeal to the 14- to 18-year-old.”

Fromme, like Jones, also is interested in a career in radio or television, so he rearranged his entire course schedule for this semester to be able to take the class. In addition to hosting several radio sessions throughout the semester, he and his classmates are able to produce the Wednesday morning TV show and write pieces for the student-run blog at wildcatweekly.org. The website launched last school year at around the same time as the radio station as a complement to the student TV show, which features school news and interviews with students and teachers.

“That’s kind of the direction we’ve taken the program in a much more media-centric way of doing things,” Elrod said of the new opportunities. “I want to give them a chance to see if they like radio, see if they like TV, see if they like writing articles on the website which would be right up the newspaper alley. I want to give them every opportunity that we can to find something that they enjoy and excel at.”

Contact Claire Moorman at cmoorman@dcherald.com.

More on DuboisCountyHerald.com